The Life of Bon: May 2015

Sunday, May 31, 2015

My city needs a good library in the worst way

Do you like to take selfies with your baby?  Submit your selfie with the hashtag #UltraHug here where they will be featured.  On July 6th voters will narrow down 20 finalists to 10 winners who will each win a $2,000 grant from Huggies for a nominated community project of their choice.  You 
can read about my nominated community project below.

I live in the good old city of Lehi, Utah.  Lehi has a lot of great things.  It's got many parks.  It's got beautiful hiking trails.  It's got an amazing outlet mall.  It's even got a little drive in called Swig that sells specialty soda and soft soft sugar cookies.  It's a slice of heaven, that place.

One thing Lehi does not have is a rocking library.  It's got a kind-of-okay-halfway-decent library.  It's just not, you know, rocking per se.

Salt Lake county- now Salt Lake county is where it's at for your library needs.  All the libraries within the county send their books, movies, and cds to each other and you can basically get any book in the world that you want in a matter of days.  It's everything that a library system should be.

I can't use the Salt Lake county library system because I don't live in Salt Lake county.  Trust me, I've tried.  I live a couple of miles over the border into Utah county.  I work in Salt Lake county, but they said they don't care, I can't have no library card.

Which means that I am left to Lehi's library for all my library needs.  The waiting lists for books are so long.  They don't have a great kid's section.  The library up and closes whenever it decides to. (On the day we went to visit and take pictures for this post the library was randomly closed.  At 2:00 on a Saturday.  There was no sign on the door.  When we called the library, the message said it was closed for the day for "inventory").  I would love for my community to have a library that can fulfill my reading needs, my children's reading needs, the teenagers' needs that go to the high school down the block.  Right now it just doesn't have the money to be the kick butt library that it needs to be.

That's why I'm nominating the Lehi Library for the $2,000 grant from Huggies.

If you have a local community project that you think could use a few extra dollars, you can nominate it, too!  Go here for the details.

A special thanks to Huggies Snug and Dry for sponsoring such an awesome cause.  I love the idea of people who live in communities to see where the community is lacking and trying to help. And thanks to Huggies too for making such awesome diapers.  June's all about those Snug and Dry diapers.  I tried to sell her on the loose and wet diapers and she was like, mom, no, those are the worst.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

May Book Club: Interpreter of Maladies


Every month we read a book.  On the selected day, we talk about it. (Generally the last Thursday of the month).

Join in for whatever books you can.  Read what you want and comment on what you want.  Some readers write their own review on their blog and then link up to it, others just write their thoughts in the comments- it's up to you!  If you write your own post and link up, please slap the image above on your post! Grazi!


+ What story did you like the most?  The least?
+ The majority of the stories end without much resolution.  Why do you think Lahiri does this?  As a reader, did you like the way the stories ended or no?
+ Any characters in the stories who you especially related to?  Any characters you hated?
+ What is the significance of the title, Interpreter of Maladies?

My co-host this month is Tayler from The Morrell Tale.  She is a fellow teacher, but she braves the world of Jr. High History and English.  I was so excited when she said she wanted to host book club with me and loved reading her thoughts on the book.  Take it away, Tayler!

Hey y'all! I am so excited to join with Bonnie for her book club! We English teachers have to stick together!

I will be quite honest...I am full of all sorts of jumbled opinions about Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri. I had never heard of it before. Salt Lake County's entire library system didn't have it! Our local Barnes and Noble didn't have it! I had to order it on Amazon!

I brought it with me to school to read during my Study Skills (Study Hall/Homework Period). I mentioned it to my fellow teacher-friend who shares my classroom (she teaches part-time in the morning and I, part-time in the afternoon) if she had ever heard of it. She mentioned she read it when it first came out and loved parts of it and hated parts of it. After finishing all the short stories, I have to agree with her.

It is a very interesting dynamic, these short stories. They all have to do with families and universal issues, such as true love, miscarriages, falling out of love, childcare, buying new homes, pregnancy, marriage, affairs, etc. However, what makes them unique is the fact that they are all...well, mundane is the wrong word.,,anti-climatic. They end very quickly without ever reaching a traumatic climax. And yet, you are still wrapped up in their worlds, begging to know what happened next. The worst of this for me was "A Temporary Matter"--I'm still not sure if Shoba did decided to leave or not after Shukumar told her the gender of their miscarried baby. The next was "This Blessed House" because I don't know if Sanjeev really ever ended up loving his new, eccentric wife.

One thing that I didn't like about these short stories was that the majority of them were saddening. It seemed like Lahiri focused on only the sad parts of married life and parenthood. To me, seven out of ten ended on a negative note, Thankfully, the last two short stories, "The Treatment of Bibi Haldar" and "The Third and Final Continent" ended happily.

I wondered why Lahiri decided to name her anthology "The Interpreter of Maladies" based off one of the short stories. Why that one specifically? It was one of my least favorites! In the short story, Mr. Kapasi was an interpreter for a local doctor to help patients explain their ailments to the doctor and for the doctor to prescribe them a remedy. So, he was, in a sort of way, an interpreter of maladies. And, honestly, as I am writing this, my English teaching brain is turning and I think I may know why...because of the themes in these short stories, I think Lahiri decided to name it this because that is how she saw herself...she was giving scenes of real life, different "maladies" real people experience.

The last note I have to make is that I found it interesting that Lahiri focused all her stories on the Indian culture: in India, immigrants to the US, or Indian-Americans. It was interesting reading the nuances of their culture, and the detail that Lahiri put into describing the food preparation...especially since I just watched the current episode of MasterChef, in which there is both an Indian and an Lebanese that use those same preparation and cooking techniques! 

I would recommend this book, but as a teacher, not to anyone younger than Junior year, and those juniors would have to be mature. There really isn't anything "inappropriate" in the stories, but they are just emotionally and mentally heavy.

I think this is the hardest book review I've ever had to write.  Leading up to writing this post I have thought over and over what I would say and nothing has come to mind.  Like Tayler, my opinions are very jumbled and all over the place.  These stories seem like the type where you need weeks and months to let them float around in your head before you decide what you think of them.

So I'll tell you what I do know for sure about my feelings on these stories.  When I first read these stories I was a senior in college and my roommate recommended the book to me.  My sister in law, who lived in New Delhi, had also recommended the book.  Both of these people are big readers and I trust their opinions on recommendations.  So, I read the stories and I loved them.  Six years later, that is basically all I can remember. (And can we not talk about how gross it is that I have been done with college for six years?)

I was excited to read the stories again.  I only remembered details of the first story, A Temporary Matter, and even then I only remembered that it was about a couple who always ignored each other and then reconnected when their power went out.  When I reread it, I was totally surprised to remember that the reason for their distance was that they had suffered a miscarriage together and he had not been there when it happened.  It's interesting to me that this very large part of the story faded from my memory whereas now I think it would be the thing that I most remembered.  I felt much more deeply for this story and connected to it.  I guess it is all just about time in life.  As a senior in college this would have been a story about someone's struggles who was very different from me.  Now reading it, I could imagine it and feel it much more.

I keep thinking about Lahiri's characters.  I appreciate these short stories because the characters are so unlikeable.  It's easy to tell a good story when everyone likes the characters.  But Lahiri's characters are truly awful people- they have affairs, tell lies, ignore their wives, etc.  But I was still interested in these people and I think that is a testament to Lahiri's ability to tell a story.  Somehow I cared and was interested in these people, even though I kind of hated them all.  (Reminded me of my feelings about Great Gatsby characters.)  As John Green says "I don't know where people got the idea that characters in books are supposed to be likeable.  Books are not in the business of creating merely likeable characters with whom you can have some simple identification.  Books are in the business of creating great stories that make your brain go all like fhasofaosrhghibadaba!"  Gotta love that John Green!  (FYI:  That quote is from his crash course on The Great Gatsby.  If you like John Green or The Great Gatsby or people who talk really fast, I highly recommend you watch it.)

My favorite story was either A Temporary Matter or Sexy.  I was very interested in the way Lahiri told Sexy- the way we saw Laxmi trying to comfort her cousin (whose husband was having an affair) and at the same time watched Lami's best friend, Miranda, have an affair with a married man.  I loved how we saw both sides of that.  HOW COULD ANYONE HAVE AN AFFAIR WITH A MARRIED MAN? and then on the next page, Lahiri shows us exactly how.

Reading these short stories again, I can not say I liked them.  Like Tayler said, they are mostly depressing and about unlikeable people.  I would, however, definitely recommend the stories for their ability to challenge our ideas, to stretch the mind, and to analyze literature on a deeper level.  I for sure want to do at least one of these stories with my AP class next year- just can't decide which one.

Have any of you read The Namesake by Lahiri?  I was interested enough in Interpreter of Maladies that I'm thinking about reading that this summer.

Alright, your turn!  Add your thoughts!  Tayler and I will be responding to every comment.  If you wrote your own post, leave the link in the comments and we will for sure check it out.  Let's get this book talk started!  And don't forget June's book is Dark Places by Gillian Flynn (Author of Gone Girl.)  It is a mystery/suspense and should be perfect for some beach reading to get your summer rolling.  That discussion will take place on June 25.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

How We Wore It// MAY, Man!

Alright ladies, I've teamed up with Brooke and other awesome bloggers to be fashion inspired by fashion bloggers.  For the record, I feel kind of weird using the word "inspired" when it comes to clothes because that seems like way too big of a word to use for something as trivial as what I'm wearing.  I couldn't find an adequate replacement word though.  I was motivated by this fashion blogger? No.  Her outfit gave me an idea for an outfit? Yes, but that's so many words!  There are holes in the English language, that's all we need to know.

Anyway, for this month's challenge, we were given a picture by memorandum to "inspire" us.  This is she wore.

And this is my take on it.

Skirt: Banana Republic// Cardigan: Gap// Tshirt: H&M// Shoes: Gap

I tried to wear a chambray shirt like in the original picture (Also, in the interest of full disclosure I totally had to just look up what the word is for a chambray shirt.  I always just call it my jean shirt, but I knew there was a more technical term.  Ah, fashion.  It's so nuts.) but it was baggy and ugly and I didn't want to wear it.  As I have mentioned in my other What I Wore posts (here and here) I feel like I am in a serious clothes funk this year.  I blame it all on nursing.  Last post you all suggested that I try to nurse up instead of down, basically wearing a white tank and a loose fitting shirt so that I can pull up instead of always pulling down.  It kind of works for me, but it was harder than I thought.  It gets kind of tricky pulling in different directions (shirt goes up, bra and tank go down).  And I guess my shirts are always a little too tight so it's just hard to get them up.  I also really hate wearing two shirts because I am basically a walking oven.  Great for Alaska, not great for nursing.  So I'm back to wearing low cut shirts that I can pull down easily to nurse.

Anyway, the blue cardigan worked much better than the chambray shirt, and the striped tee gave it the fit that I like in a shirt.  I also love that white skirt- perfect for all things summer- formal or informal.  Greg calls it my virginity skirt.  I don't know what that's supposed to mean.

I feel bad that I didn't get a better picture than this.  Greg was supposed to take some picture for me yesterday, but yesterday was just wild start to finish.  That's May, man.  Every year I forget how absolutely insane May is. (Last year's crazy May posts are here and here and here and here) April starts winding up and I think, "Ah, almost May!  I love May!  May is such a great month!" And then May hits and it's pure madness top to bottom and when the month ends I sit back and wonder how in the world I survived any of it.  We've got Mother's Day and Memorial Day and family gatherings that accompany those days.  Then, of course, it's the end of the school year.  Banquets, plays, closing socials, etc, etc.  Testing, spring fever, end of the year projects all on top of the normal schedule.  It just goes nuts on us.  That's all there is to it.

Take yesterday, for example.  Greg was filming a commercial for a local channel. So exciting, but not great timing!  It was my off day, so I went in to cover his classes to make sure they still got all their ish done.  My mom watched June. (Praises be to my mom!)  I spent the morning subbing Greg's classes, trying to finish this Bachelorette post, and organizing a loop giveaway on Instagram.  Have any of you guys ever been involved in the madness that is Instagram loop giveaways?  It's another world entirely, I promise you that.  Kind of like a whole separate level of hell.  But everyone's dressed well.

I left school at 3:00, after Greg's kids had pretty much destroyed his prop closet.  I am good at teaching English, but let the record show that I am no good at subbing theater.  I don't know what to do with those kids.  There is not enough structure or control for me.  They're all out of their seats moving around, acting, singing, dancing.  It's wild.  They don't even have desks.  THEY DON'T EVEN HAVE DESKS.  That should explain something of the wildness that is a theater class.  The whole performing arts wing is a world that is totally foreign and intimidating to me and a million kudos to the teachers that can teach those high energy classes, but NOT FOR ME.

Anyway, I booked it out of there and drove down to my mom's to get my June bug.  I drove back home, fed June, put her down, all while trying to organize last minute details for the loop giveaway.  I spent gross amounts of time doing giveaway stuff and when everyone posted at 5:00 I breathed a huge sigh of relief and went and took a hot, bath.  I didn't allow my phone anywhere near me because sometimes my phone is just so needy and after the giveaway madness I needed space in the worst way.  I took a book, and had a blessed minute of quiet.  (I'm reading Interpreter of Maladies in preparation for tomorrow's book club.  Are you reading it?  It's a collection of short stories and they are all so unique and interesting.  Read at least one of the stories- it will only take you 20 minutes and you'll be glad you did.)

By 6:00 Greg still wasn't home from his filming.  I was starting to get worried because we had to be back at the school for his closing theater banquet at 6:30.  I was planning on him snapping my pictures for this blog post before the banquet but he didn't tear through until 6:15 and by then we were going to be late.  We donned our formal clothes, woke up our bug so she could join us, and raced to the banquet where the kids ate, gave speeches, announced next year's drama council and cried an expected amount of tears for a department full of theater lovers.  Drama kids are so sweet.  They adore Greg and are so grateful for their year in theater.  It's pretty amazing what he had been able to give them and I am a million times over proud of that guy.  Not a day of student teaching or teacher training under his belt and he has come in and just kicked butt with the theater department.  I married a keeper.

We were home by 10:00, in bed by by 10:30 and I hadn't even begun to write a blog post.  It crossed my mind but I collapsed on the bed before I could even think about it.  And that is how we got to this morning, at 7 am in front of our garage, where this picture was taken.  I was literally in the car with Greg and June, on the way to school.  WAIT!  I NEED TO TAKE THE PICTURE FOR MY FASHION POST!  Greg snapped a picture, we jumped back in the car, and that was it for our fashion shoot. We did our best, but hey, that's May, folks.  A freaking race start to finish.

Five more days of school.  Will we live to see summer?

Here's the other ladies that did the fashion collaboration with me.  Go check them out!

Brooke at Silver Lining
Deidre at Deidre Emme
Sierra at Sierra's View
Brooklyn at A Little Too Jolley
Laura at Sincerely, Laura
Kaycie at Redhead Memories 
Kyla at FordOlogy
Ashley at Absolutely Ashley
Tayler at The Morrell Tale

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Bachelorette Recap Week Two: She's Kissing Everyone!

Friends, Romans, Countrymen!  Lend me your ears, it's time to discuss another hot week of The Bachelorette.  I know you all probably had busy, fun weekends with your family celebrating Memorial Day, but let's face it, nothing is quite as important as watching 25 men make fools of themselves to impress one woman.  Glad we got our priorities straight.  Let's dive in, shall we?

The first date card arrives and a lucky group of men are off to win Kaitlyn's hearts through, what else, pure and aggressive fighting.  Nothing spells love like a good sock to the face.  The men receive the date card, are driven to the date, arrive to the date, and yet still some seem to be confused about what's going on.

A professional woman boxer is there to show the men the ropes.  (I give Kaitlyn mad props for having a woman teach the men to box.)  Some men (Talking to you, Kupah) are so in to the boxing that they forget about everything else.  Some men (Talking to you, Tanner) are wearing puka shells while trying to box.  In 2015.  As you can see, it's a very diverse group.

Kaitlyn is really excited about the group, but has one little concern in the back of her head.

Hurt?  That's preposterous!  On a boxing date?  Where men who are all competing for the same woman box tournament style  to see who the best man is?  In front of cameras?  In front of an audience?  And the woman for whom they are vying for affection?  No, no, Kaitlyn, there is definitely no way any one will get hurt.

The boxing matches are pretty painful to watch.  The men turn on each other like beasts in the wild and it is soon just an all out brawl as they desperately try to prove their alpha status.  MEN.  Am I right?  One by one the men are eliminated until it is down to the final two-  Jared vs. Ben Z.  Never mind that there is a 55 pound weight difference between them, this is totally a safe, legit fight!  Shockingly, Jared (the -55 pound guy) takes a hard hit to the head and buckles.  No one saw that coming!  Jared goes to the hospital, is told he needs lots of rest, but then has his ride drop him off real quick so he can try to get a kiss from Kaitlyn who is continuing the group date.  And he scores his kiss!  Well played, Jared, well played.

The rest of the night is a blur of conversations. Ben Z, who we last saw knocking someone out, sadly explains what it was like to lose his mom to cancer at 14 years old.  Someone else explains what it's like to own a furniture business.  Someone has a four year old son.   When it's all said and done, it is Ben Z., our boxing champion who gets the rose.  Bravo, you gentle giant!

Back at the house, Clint is given the first one on one date.  He gave Kaitlyn a very meaningful drawing on the first night, and she wants to explore that relationship more.

Amen, sister, Amen. I know that's how I chose all my boyfriends back in the day.

Of course, some men are jealous when they don't get that first date. J.J., who for some reason was really banking on that date despite having had absolutely no connection with Kaitlyn thus far, is totally bummed.  His emotions resemble that of a bipolar toddler.

Which one is it, J.J.?  PICK A LANE.

There is also some nonsense from Tony, the "healer" which is all very confusing.

Basically I understand nothing he says.  Yet at the same time I feel very calm and at peace when he is speaking.  Let's just say I'm confused.  And maybe I need to see a healer.

Time for Clint and Kaitlyn's one on one date!  The date card says "Take my breath away!"  Clint is imagining sky diving, climbing up buildings, or any other high adrenaline activity.  Imagine his surprise when Kaitlyn has an underwater photo shoot planned for him.  Sucker!  Way to mess with him, Kaitlyn!  They dress up in fancy clothes and take pictures under water.  I make fun of it, then see the pictures, then decide I want to try it one day.  Clint was clearly disappointed in the day's activity, but he gets to make out with Kaitlyn underwater so he seems to forgive her pretty quickly.  They have some uninteresting conversations, eat a dinner that they don't really eat at all, (Bach scoop is that they have the bachelor contestants eat before their date so that they aren't chewing on camera.  The dinner they serve them on the dates is just for effect) and then make out some more.  Clint gets the rose and all is well.

Next up, we've got our second group date!  The men are doing stand up comedy and I immediately forgive Kaitlyn for her stupid boxing date.  On deck we've got Amy Schumer and three or four other lady stand up comedians to help the men pull out some great comedic lines. (Again, totally respect that Kaitlyn has all female comedians to teach the men.)  I've never even heard of Amy Schumer, but I think I'm in love.  Her and her posse do their best to help the men, but it ain't an easy job.

"You gotta make a joke about the fact that you look like the Old Spice guy."

"Does any funny stuff happen when you weld?"
(Long silence.)

"We definitely need to make fun of the fact that your shirt is toothpaste colored."

The best conversation is undeniably when Amy tries to help our self proclaimed villian, J.J., write his bit.  It's a hard task for him because, well, because he's too smart for comedy, obviously.

Amy, of course, shuts that down real quick.

"I'll make you feel better... you're not."

After a long conversation in which Amy gets nothing accomplished, she gives her final assessment of J.J.

The stand up comedy is actually really fun to watch.  Most men do okay.  The cupcake dentist with the toothpaste colored shirt is admittedly the most nervous, but with enough self deprecation manages to get a few laughs.  Tony, our healer, gets up and thanks everyone honestly for such a wonderful opportunity to which the audience thinks, yah, but where's the jokes, you fool?  J.J.'s comedy revolves completely around making of Tony.  Josh, our welder from Idaho, attempts the impossible task of making welding funny and mildly succeeds.  (By the way, if I were Kaitlyn I totally would have chosen Josh already.  That boy is my. cup. of. tea.)

There are a lot more boring conversations that night.  J.J. talks about his three year old girl is all grown up now and we all roll our eyes.  He then gives Kaitlyn the most not passionate kiss we have ever witnessed.  Josh complains about his dogs who only fart and drool and never ask him how his day was.  Dude, I totally relate, Josh.  Dogs can be so selfish.  The Kentucky boy takes Kaitlyn out back and gives her a long, sexy kiss that she thoroughly enjoys.  J.J. gets the rose, though, because seriously, who can deny how cute it is when three year old daughters grow up?

J.J. accepts the rose with his typical humility.

Too many wrappers, J.J.!  Ain't nobody got time to keep track of all that wrapping.

Rose ceremony time!  Ben Z., Clint, and J.J. all have roses so they are safe.  All men who went on dates have agreed to let the dateless men have extra time with Kaitlyn that night.  Well, all have agreed except J.J., who quickly swoops in to steal Kaitlyn away first.  He takes her away, has a totally boring and pointless conversation, and then brings her back with a typical "Sorry not sorry!" reply.  He justifies his behavior in a very logical way.

Which frankly, clears up a lot of confusion for me and the rest of The Bachelorette audience. (Or, as "Chris Hansen" likes to call us, Bachelor Nation.) All these years we've thought we were watching church camp, and now we understand it's just trashy reality tv...  I mean, wow.  Everything makes so much more sense.  Honestly, it's a huge relief to finally understand.  Thanks for clearing that up for all of us J.J.

Kupah, meanwhile, (not to be confused with the bad guy on Mario) is frustrated that he hasn't gotten more time with Kaitlyn.  He believes he may be on the show simply to fill ABC's quota for minority men. (Not an unfair assumption, I might add.)  He confronts Kaitlyn about it, saying that he has felt no connection with her whatsoever.  "That's because you literally didn't talk to me once on our date and spent the whole time boxing in the corner," replies Kaitlyn.  "Every other guy came up and talked to me and you ignored me that whole time."  "I don't even like boxing, I would have rather not even been on that date," claims Kupah, "But now I feel more of a connection with you than ever- please don't send me home."  Kaitlyn's confused, the audience is confused, Kupah is begging for more time.  Kait says she'll have to think about it for awhile, and Kupah proceeds to go around the corner and yell all the details of their conversation to the other men.  With Kaitlyn clearly within ear shot.  Oh, Kupah, you sweet naive dinosaur idiot.  That's not how you win a girl's heart.  Kaitlyn storms out, pulls him aside, and says he should probably just hit the road now.  Kupah tries desperately to save himself by blurting out the things every woman considers most important to who she is.

He sure presents a strong case for keeping him around, doesn't he?!  Shockingly, Kaitlyn sticks to her guns and tells him to go away.

Naturally, Kupah is not happy.  He is mad that he has "lost" and starts yelling at the camera man who is unsuccessfully trying to get Kupah's diary of the departed.  Kaitlyn hears him yelling from inside the house and says, "Oh no!  Not on my Bachelorette show!"  Everyone is excited to watch the confrontation go down when ABC cuts us off and gives us our favorite three words...


Typical ABC fashion, trying desperately to get us to tune in to next week.  Jerks.

Now tell me all your thoughts!  There's nothing I love more than meaningful, thought provoking conversations about The Bachelorette!  Is Kaityln kissing too many men?  Was she unfair when she sent Kupah home so quickly?  Who do you think will win it all?  And why oh why didn't we get to see the Ryan Gosling look alike once this whole week?  

Friday, May 22, 2015

My name is Bonnie and I like diet coke.

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. 
All opinions are mine alone. 
#ShareYourSummer #CollectiveBias

Were any of you guys confused about what my favorite drink is?

It's Diet Coke!

Are you wondering what drink I would drink if I could drink any drink of all the drinks?

It's Diet Coke!

One more time... just to make sure everybody's on the same page...

I like Diet Coke!  
And I drink A LOT of Diet Coke!  
Possibly more diet coke than is legal!  

I drink Diet Coke...
In the morning, as a perfect companion to my breakfast
During second period when lunch still seems so far away
With a sugar cookie when I'm watching mindless reality tv
When I am laying by the pool
When I am taking a bubble bath after a busy and stressful day
When I go play tennis
On the beach
With pizza and breadsticks- it goes down so smooth!
While I am working in the yard, putting in sod and planting my vegetable plants (more on that next week- my yard is totally coming together!)

(Also if my students are less than five minutes late to class I let them erase their tardy if they come bearing diet coke.  Some days I get four diet cokes in a day! It's a sweet sweet life.)

Diet Coke makes everything about life a little bit better.  The past year I have LOVED that Coke has put names on their bottles.  The other day at Wal-mart I looked for one for me or my family with our names on it. The searching was actually quite easy.  Wal-mart has coolers in the front with an organized display to make your drink name hunting a piece of cake.  My name is pretty old school so I wasn't shocked that I couldn't find my name,  but don't worry, Coke has a solution for that!  (One of my favorite comments after I had June and announced her name on instagram was someone who responded, "I love that you gave her a little old lady name like yours!"  Uh... thanks?)  If you are like me and have a "little old lady name" or a name that isn't quite as common you can check here and create your own bottle with your name on it.  Boom baby!

While I didn't find my own name, I did find a Rebecca, which is June's middle name and my mother in law's name so I called it a success!

Greg drinks a lot of coke so our house is always stocked with both coke and diet coke.  I use coke to make one of my favorite recipes of all time- sweet pork.  It is the easiest and yummiest recipe so I will share it with you in hopes that your coke can be put to good use.

(Adapted from Fav Family Recipes)
  • 2 pounds pork (boneless pork rib meat is what is recommended, but it can be tricky to find.  I have made it countless times with the bones- you just have to pull them out before you shred the meat.  Annoying, but the taste is still the same)
  • 3-4 cans Coke (NOT diet) 
  • 1 ¼ c. brown sugar
  • dash garlic salt
  • ¼ c. water
  • 1 small can diced green chilies (I like mild)
  • ¾ (10oz) can red enchilada sauce (Again, I go with the mild but if you want more oomph, by all means, go spicy)
  • OPTIONAL:  Dash of cinnamon.  
  1. Put the pork in a heavy duty ziploc bag to marinade. Add about a can and a half of coke and about ¼ c. of brown sugar. It tastes the best if you marinade it overnight, but if you forget, you can marinade for a few hours in the fridge.  (Also, I like to up my sugar on this step- I usually put in closer to 1/2 c. of brown sugar.)
  2. Drain marinade and put pork, ½ can of coke, water, and garlic salt in crock pot on high for about 3-4 hours (or until it shreds easily, but don't let it get TOO dry) or on low for 8 hours. Remove pork from crock pot and drain any liquid left in the pot. Shred pork and remove bones if there are any.  If your meat is hard to shred, that means it hasn't been cooking long enough.  It should easily tear apart from each other
  3. In a food processor or blender, blend ½ can Coke, chilies, enchilada sauce and remaining brown sugar (about a cup, you can add a little more or less to taste..). If it looks too thick, add more Coke little by little.  Here is where you can add your cinnamon if you so choose- gives it a sweet and unique taste.
  4. Put shredded pork and sauce in crockpot and cook on low for 2 hours. That's it!
  5. Use pork for any of the following- tacos, enchiladas, quesadillas, or even barbeque sandwiches.  I love to add a little bit of barbeque sauce and stick it on a bun. This pork keeps great- I'll make a huge recipe and we'll eat a form of pork for three or four straight days.  There is no one who doesn't love this recipe.  Everywhere I go I make this and the people love it!

I'd love to hear how you make coke and diet coke a part of your awesome summer life.  Got recipe ideas or craft ideas?  Let's face it- you know I'll always have diet coke on hand to try anything you might suggest!  Oh, and before I forget, here is the hub for more fun share your summer ideas and conversation.

Here is a list of Walmart stores where you can find a large quantity of personalized Coca Cola bottles to share with someone this Summer! If your store is not on the list you can still find these bottles at all Walmart locations.

Stay classy and enjoy your long weekend!

I'm on a boat!

With three days left of teaching for me, I can't help but let my mind wander to what I will do during the summer.

10 weeks off!
In a row!
No work!
But I still get a paycheck!

It is this time of year where I once again decide that I absolutely made the right choice when it comes to my profession.  No one in this world can argue with summers off.

One of my favorite summer activities in the world is this.

Unfortunately, I do not own a boat.
Also unfortunately, I do not own a wakeboard.
Or a jet ski.

Basically I own nothing for the water.

When I was in college, this wasn't a problem.  There were plenty of boys around who had daddies who owned boats and my girlfriends and I satisfied all of our boating needs by making friends with the right people.

The greatest boating trip of my life was the summer after I had come home from my mission.  I was 23 and life was easy.  I went with my three best friends and probably 50 other strangers.  We stayed on a big house boat and knew nothing of responsibility, work or stress.  No cell phone, no social media, nothing to distract us from just living the good life.  I don't think I've ever had a better week in my whole life.

Nowadays it's a little harder for me and my friends to find boys to take us out on their boats.  Between the four of us we have four husbands and six kids.  I don't know why single boys aren't interested in taking me and my husband and my baby on a ride on their boat anymore!  How rude!

That means if I want to see a boat this summer I need to take matters in to my own hands.  This is where boat selector comes in.  I don't even have to own a boat to make awesome memories on the water this summer.  Boom baby.

One day I hope Greg and I are rich enough to own our own boat and plan huge week long boating trips for our family and friends.  Do you want to come with?  I'll invite you!  And since Greg and I are both teachers, I'd say wealth is definitely in our near future!

In the meantime, I'll be using this bad boy to satisfy my boating needs.  I can't wait to hit the water this summer.  Who's coming with me?

This is a sponsored post written by me in behalf of Discover Boating.
I get paid a small amount every time you click on one of the links within this post.
Thank you so much for supporting this blog and my family.
May your summer be filled with boats!

Thursday, May 21, 2015

AP Lit reading list- what books should I teach next year?

 This time of year my brain is filled mostly with school's almost out, lesson plans, school's almost out, grading papers, school's almost out, do we have any food in the house, school's almost out, and did someone take out the garbage?  Trust me, it's very fun to be inside my brain in May.  A very small percentage of my brain (the responsible and sometimes very annoying part of my brain) starts worrying about what I'm going to be teaching next year.  I like to make sure I read over the summer any new books I'll be teaching come fall.  I let my brain do this relaxed, summer thing where it has the book in the back of everything and slowly starts to come up with fun activities and lesson plans to go along with it.  My brain is kind of stubborn.  It doesn't like to be rushed.  If I try to read a book and think of fun lesson plans in September by brain will absolutely refuse, screaming "I can't work under this kind of pressure!"

I have my junior curriculum pretty much down at this point.  Next year will be my sixth (SIXTH!) year teaching juniors.  With all the district, state, and national testing that juniors are required to do (SAGE, ACT, SRI, CFA.  The testing madness never ends when you're 17) I barely have the time to fit my favorite books in there, so I don't plan on having time to adding anything new for next year.  (Junior books I read: Excerpts of Scarlet Letter, The Crucible, Of Mice and Men, The Great Gatsby, The Things They Carried, and Tuesdays with Morrie.  If I change anything next year it will be not teaching The Crucible.  I enjoy teaching it less and less each year.)

With my junior classes pretty set and stone, my brain is focusing on the AP Literature curriculum.  Teaching AP Lit is a dream come true for someone like me because I get to just let the kids read book after book after book.  In my normal class I worry that we spend too much time on books and not rhetoric, vocabulary, argumentative writing, etc, etc, etc.  Basically there is so much you have to cover in a regular class but AP Lit is like this little gift from God saying, "You want to teach books and poetry?  TEACH NOTHING BUT BOOKS AND POETRY.  WRITE ABOUT NOTHING BUT BOOKS AND POETRY."  And to top it off, I get to pick the books I teach!  As long as they are of significant "literary merit" I can teach whatever my little heart desires.  It is seriously my wildest dream.

So, here's what's on the docket for next year.  In AP Lit I try to cover two books a quarter- eight in all.  Choosing books to teach is very different than choosing books to read.  The books have to be interesting to seventeen year olds, move at a decent pace, have lots of topics for discussion and writing, be of "literary merit", and due to time constraints, be relatively short.  (I usually don't teach a book if it's over 300 pages.)  With all of that to consider, here are the books I am for sure teaching in AP Literature next year and why:

Lots of symbolism- the conch, the fire, the glasses, the "Lord of the Flies"
Very interesting study of human nature, social systems, how people work (or don't work) together.
Due to ^^^ there is LOTS to write about in a potential AP prompt
Students dig it- 12 year old British boys killing each other on a deserted island?  What's not to love?
Short book
(Cons to teaching this book- starts a little slow, lots of description can weigh students down.)

Very easy to read, feels like you're talking to a friend
A great study of "coming of age" and the complexity of people- what you see on the surface isn't always the real deal.
Holden Caulfield is my literary boyfriend
Funny and interesting book to read- Holden's voice is entertaining to most readers.
Allows for great discussion on the use of slang, profanity, the purpose of language, how we use language for our own needs, etc.
Students get to read a classic without feeling like they're reading "a classic."

(Cons- you either love Holden or you hate him.  Some students definitely hate him.  And in conservative Utah, the profanity and over all "bad attitude" closes some students off to the book.)

I feel like in a literature class I absolutely need to teach at least one or two Shakespeare plays
Iago may possibly be the best villain of all time
Race issues, power issues, etc.
Emilia is one of the my favorite minor female characters- strong and brash- the only person who can give Iago a run for his money.
Makes for terrific writing prompts.
It's not as often taught as Hamlet or Macbeth which can make it a little more interesting to graders if students choose to write about it for an AP prompt.

(Cons-  It's Shakespeare, which means it's more difficult.  Anytime we do Shakespeare in class we read the whole thing in class and that eats up a lot of time.)

All the same Shakespeare reasons as listed above.
Hamlet is a fascinating character to study- is he really mad? Does he love Opehlia?  Why the hesitancy to get his revenge? MAKE UP YOUR DAMN MIND!
Like most of Shakespeare's plays, the true strength is in the characters- so many people with so many issues to write about... Gertrude, Polonius, Opehlia, Laertes, etc.
To be or not to be speech... I feel like I am robbing students if they take a literature class with me and don't study maybe the famous literary speech of all time.

(Cons- It is the longest Shakespeare tragedy and it certainly feels that way.  I get really tired of Hamlet sitting around and whining about what he should do.  When you have to read the whole thing in class, it can really drag.)

One of the few books we read that is about a woman!
One of the few books we read that is written by a woman or a person of color!
The dialect is hard for students to get, which provides an extra challenge, and I like that.  They really have to focus to read it. Kids are really proud of themselves after having read and conquered this bad boy.
Great topics for discussion- The institution of marriage, the treatment of women during this time, the treatment of black women during this time, etc.
Short chapters- students always are in to that.

Cons- Some students want to give up on the dialect right away.  If they can stick with it, most students really enjoy this book but it's hard talking them through those first few chapters.

Books I taught my first year of teaching AP Lit that I won't teach again:

JANE EYRE BY CHARLOTTE BRONTE- too long, not interesting enough to students, Jane is kind of a boring protagonist, not enough to write about for possible AP prompts.  It makes me sad because this was one of my favorite books in high school, but when I tried to teach it it just didn't have the same magic.

DEATH OF A SALESMAN BY ARTHUR MILLER- This one I'm on the fence about.  I don't particularly enjoy teaching it, but it could be I just didn't do the right activities with it.  It is one that has the potential to be very interesting, as well as lots of possible discussion and writing topics.  But then again, maybe it's just a weird play?

Books I am considering teaching next year:

THE AWAKENING BY KATE CHOPIN- it's pretty much on every suggested AP reading list.  I read it in college but literally don't remember a single thing about it, which is a bad sign for me.

IN COLD BLOOD BY TRUMAN CAPOTE- One of my favorite books, fascinating for students, and is nonfiction which is a bonus as all of our other reading is fiction so far.  I worry that it might not have enough "literary merit" to justify teaching.  Will it yield enough discussion/ possible writing topics?

HARD TIMES BY CHARLES DICKENS- I feel like I should read some Charles Dickens with students, but most of his books are so long!  Hard Times is one of the shorter ones.  I read it in my AP class in high school and enjoyed it- I also know it's on all the AP suggested reading lists.  I just don't know if I like Dickens enough to teach him.  Also I get tired of teaching all the books that are written by white British dudes.

PRIDE AND PREJUDICE BY JANE AUSTEN- I have no love for Jane Austen, but I wonder if it's because I read this in high school and the satire and wit was lost on me.  I've heard Austen is very witty and very funny.  It is possible I was always reading her at face value.  I would consider teaching this, but then I also worry that the boys in the class would just hate it.  The other part of me thinks, screw you boys, sometimes you have to read books about women too, you know.

1984 BY GEORGE ORWELL- Again, it's on every single AP reading list.  I liked it in high school, but when I cracked it last summer I only got about 30 pages in before I was bored to tears.  I never make my students read book I myself am not interested in.  Maybe I didn't give it a fair chance?  Big brother and the dystopian society- pretty crucial to literature study.

MACBETH BY WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE-  Lady Macbeth is one of my favorite female characters ever.  And the witches are so fun.  And there's ghosts!  Who doesn't love ghosts?!  But if I teach this then I will have to take out either Hamlet or Othello because I am certainly not teaching three Shakespeares.  Teaching Macbeth in lieu of Hamlet is tempting because it is significantly shorter, but then am I robbing my students of the Hamlet/ To-be-or-not-to-be experience?  Also I have great lesson plans for Hamlet and zero lesson plans for Macbeth, so it would be more work for me.

FRANKENSTEIN BY MARY SHELLY- I haven't ever taught this, but my student teacher did last year.  The regular classes hated this book because they said it was too boring and descriptive, but I wonder if AP kids would take better to it.  The themes of nature v. nurture are fascinating but I don't know if it makes up for how hard the book can be to get through.

MORE BOOKS BY WOMEN- any great suggestions?

(I would consider teaching Of Mice and Men, The Great Gatsby, To Kill a Mockingbird and Scarlet Letter in this class, but most students will have just read those the years earlier.)

I am always interested to hear what you all say.  Any books you read in your AP classes that you loved?  A book you think would be great to study in a classroom study?  Books that you absolutely hate and should never be taught in a classroom?  Give me all the suggestions!

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

In this post we're going to talk about our periods. Boys, go away.

This post is sponsored by U by Kotex, but all opinions are my own.

Are we really talking about periods on a very public blog?  Yes, yes we are and trust me- no one is more embarrassed than I am about it.

After 18 months of not having a period, (praises be to pregnancy and breastfeeding!) I am trying to prepare myself once again for a world of unwanted monthly visits.  I don't think there's a woman in the world who likes her period, but there are a few ways to make what is miserable a little less miserable.

Introducing the 3D capture core feature from U by Kotex.  Basically it's a pad different from any other out there because it has a center that locks away the wetness and helps to stop leaks.  No more worrying about stains when you are wearing your favorite white pants, a short skirt, or worst of all, your bathing suit!  I think we've all been there and if you haven't you either A) haven't lived long enough or B) are way better at being a woman than I am.  If your answer is B, congratulations!  That must be awesome to be you.

^^^I put lipstick and gum in this picture so that maybe you would forget about how much you hate your period. Look how sneaky I am.  (Did it work?)

The whole idea behind the new 3D Capture Core is that we are going to "save the undies."  Kind of like when you save a damsel in distress but less kissing.  Basically we're tired of having to get rid of cute and expensive underwear because of leaks.  Don't fear, you stressed out, poor females!  U by Kotex is here to save your underwear stressing day and turn you all into UnderWarriors!  (See what we did there with that little play on words...?!?  Really.  This is too fun.)

^^ Disclaimer.  That is not my underwear.
(OR IS IT?!?)

The best thing about this entire post is that everyone who has stuck it out to the end is getting something for free.  Ellen Degeneres style.  (Really I wish I could give you all a car for reading this slightly painful and very awkward post, but I can't because I can barely afford my own car, let alone all of your cars. BUT I WOULD IF I COULD)  You are all going to get a free sample of this product.   Just click the "order sample" button and fill in your mailing address. Then you can try it out for yourself and confirm that the 3D Capture Core really is incredible at stopping leaks.

Go here to get your free sample.  I know it ain't no car, but it comes from the heart so that means something.  And it fits easily in your purse... bonus!

Bachelorette Premiere Recap: Let's get this debacle started!

Ladies, grab your popcorn , take your seats because it's Bachelor season!  Can you believe it's time already for us to once again indulge in rose giving, hysterical crying, and over the top dates that mirror real life exactly?  Me neither!  My, how the time flies!

This Bachelorette season, of course, is different from most.  Instead of one Bachelorette that gets to choose her man, ABC decided it was a little too dangerous to give that much power to a woman.  You don't know what she'll do with it, after all!  So they switched it back, giving the power again to the men- the woman doesn't get to choose her 20 men, the men get to choose their one bachelorette from Kaitlyn and Britt.  The first night then, is completely turned around.  Instead of 25 men fighting for the one bachelorette, now two women are fighting desperately for the 25 men.  It's so fun to have that power dynamic switched!  We don't want women to ever feel too comfortable, after all!

The episode starts with both women explaining why they think they should be the Bachelorette over the other girl.  Britt highlights her own strengths in a beautiful, princessy type way.  Kaitlyn, however, accidentally let's it slip what she really thinks of Britt.

I am a sincere person... and we're really different.

Kaitlyn and Britt both look like 100 bucks standing waiting for their men, but I do think Kaitlyn wins the dress contest with her dark sequins.  Britt is wearing a a white, high slit number.  I can't help but think that this was deliberate by ABC.  Angel and devil?  Kaitlyn as the dark horse, Britt as the sweetheart you'd bring home to mom?  

In perhaps the most awkward placement of all time, ABC has the two women stand about twenty feet from each other.  That way the men getting out of the limo must deliberately choose who they want to say hi to first, obviously showing their preference. The other must lamely look on, either trying to not listen to the conversation, or trying to somehow be a part of the conversation from 20 feet away.  It's uncomfortable for us all.

The men exit out of their limos.  It may be the worst looking bachelor crew of all time.  One man is "studying for the bar" (translation: failed the bar and now has to retake it) and to help pay off those expensive law school loans has resorted to exotic dancing.  I don't know about you, but I sure like to see my lawyers stripping at night!  Kaitlyn is on to him right away. 

When I see a guy whose hips move like that, there's no doubt that he's a stripper.

There is a handsome red head from Idaho (I may be partial to gingers), a "healer" who claims he gets a very good vibe from Britt, a bunch of guys from Tennessee and Kentucky, and an "amateur sex coach" who literally drives up in a hot tub.  And he's driving the hot tub.  I have a lot of questions.  Why amateur?  Why the hot tub?  WHAT ARE YOU DOING HERE?

Meanwhile, in the mansion, the men are getting anxious to spend more time with their ladies.  Except for Ryan, who is absolutely off his rocker drunk.  I know these are grown adult men, but shouldn't ABC kind of limit how much they drink?  When I was a server there were very strict rules as to how frequently we could serve alcohol to someone.  Maybe Utah is just very severe with their alcohol rules but at one point doesn't the guy at the bar say "Yah, you should hold off a minute..."

Anyway, no one has limited Ryan on his alcohol consumption even a little bit, including himself.  He is out of this world drunk, pretty standard for Bachelor first night antics.  He starts spurting wisdom.

I'm all horned up everyone!

I apologize for nothing!

I'd love to take that girl out for a nice steak dinner and never call her again!

Back on the driveway we continue with the arduous process of men meeting both the women and the women feeling of less value based on who the men greet first.  Britt, during this whole process has had an epiphany

I think some guys are here for me, some are here for Kaitlyn.

FINALLY, the women have greeted all the men and it's hard to tell at this point who the favorite is.  Britt appeared the front runner at first, but you know how ABC loves to throw a good twist at you.  The women enter the mansion to greet the men and Kaitlyn, true to form, starts off with a joke:

Knock knock?
Who's there?
Two bachelorettes.
Two bachelorettes who?


The men laugh while Britt looks on disapprovingly.  This is no time for jokes, Kaitlyn!  Her future husband could be in this room!  She tries to change the mood with a speech about how she is looking for her best friend. Half the men look on adoringly.  Both women seem to have accrued their own little fan clubs.

There are a lot of uninteresting conversations that follow.  Britt calls a guy a dick who gave her tissues when he met her because of how much she cried last season.  Normally, as the bachelorette and person in control, Britt would have this prerogative, but remember, oh Britty Boo, that you are now vying for these men's approval not vice versa!  You can't do anything that might show your true personality.  Keep that thing under wraps if you know what's good for you!

At this point I'm mostly just mad at ABC because I really like Kaitlyn and I'm afraid she's going to get her heart broken.  Again.  Couldn't you have just chosen one bachelorette?  I want Kaitlyn to be the next Bachelorette so badly that I am afraid my enthusiasm and intensity will turn it for Britt and I'll be left with a boring season of an insincere Bachelorette.

As I am thinking all this, the men are voting for their preferred bachelorette by dropping roses in big cedar boxes.  Some have their minds clearly made up.  Drunk Ryan, who by this point has taken a swim in the pool in nothing but his underwear, grabbed Kaitlyn's butt, and again emphatically declared that he's "all horned up", crashes into things in the decision room and attempts to throw a dart to decide who he's going to vote for .  The body guard comes in, takes Ryan to Chris Harrison, where Chris tells Ryan he's outta here.  Because you can shout obscenities, drink yourself sick, and grab women's butts all you want, but when you threaten to ruin expensive stuff, that's where ABC really draws the line.

At this point there is a small little notice that comes on the bottom left side of the TV.  BACHELORETTE 2 NIGHT PREMIERE RESUMES TOMORROW.  

Tomorrow?!  TOMORROW?!?!  Is this some kind of horrible trick, ABC?  You've already taken two hours of my life, now you want two more?  Why didn't you tell me it was a two night even before?  Oh, because then you knew I wouldn't have watched the first part?  You sly little devil, you.

The votes are all counted up, Chris Harrison (who drunk Ryan has been referring to as Chris Hansen) comes out and declares there is a winner.

And then the show ends.  TO BE CONTINUED.

Oh, ABC.  I think I hate you.

So, what are your thoughts?  Who's the next bachelorette?  And do we even care about any of the men?  Please no spoilers!  You spoil this for me I will haunt your blog until the day you die.